Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal Notes 2

In his second blog post, Jasper discusses rehearsal exercises and his interpretation of Macbeth, and looks forward to performing the production.

Transcript of Podcast

Rehearsal exercises

The company has been working on the script with Giles [Block, Master of Verse]. Script work includes reading through the scenes, exploring the rhythm of the lines and picking out words and themes that run through the play.

I spent the morning with Mark [Springer, Donalbain/Fleance] and Eve [Best, Lady Macbeth] in the dark, exploring certain scenes. We first rehearsed the scene when I have just killed Duncan and say, "I have done the deed". It was very funny because we were in the dark so we could not see the script; the lines had to be whispered to us! Once we ran through the scene in that way, we did it again, but this time we had to remember the lines ourselves. It was a useful exercise to help us learn our lines.

We then enacted the murder of Duncan in the dark, to help me understand the murder and how I might feel. Mark and Tamara [Harvey, Assistant to the Master of Play] lay down at either side of a chair. On the chair there was a bucket of warm water, this was supposed to be Duncan! We used two ‘J’ cloths as daggers. I then had to find my way around in the dark. Mark warned me that he was improvising along with me. Suddenly I heard a voice in the dark shout out ‘Sleep no more, murderer!’ It was very frightening.

We have been having many sessions on physical work with Sian [Williams, Master of Choreography]. After having these sessions, I had an idea. I thought that the army should walk on stage before I come on and say "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." I remember seeing a show years ago in Nottingham. There was a lot of dancing and movement in the show. I mentioned this to Tim [Carroll, Master of Play] and he thought it might be a good idea to incorporate some of these elements into our production. We improvised coming onto the stage and clicking our fingers to the rhythm.

Tim has created some very unusual exercises to help us develop our understanding of the play. One of these examples was when we had to throw a tennis ball on the last strong stress of a line and then catch it on the first strong stress of the next line. While doing this we had to stamp out the rhythm of the lines with our feet.

The cast is very eager to begin specific rehearsals on the play now, after all of the preparation work.


I was asked last week what Macbeth's motives were. I said that he would do anything to gain Lady Macbeth's love. Eve and I speculated that this was due the child that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth possibly had (it is ambiguous). Eve's theory was that the child was about one year old, and it brought them much joy. However, it then died, or was killed, in the same way that the Macduff children were killed. Grief can pull people apart, or can bring people together. We thought that it brought Macbeth and his wife together. The murder of Duncan is their little project, or their little baby. Perhaps the motivation of wanting to be the king means that it would put them in a position of safety, security and the fact that they thought they might deserve it. Is this what Macbeth ‘hankers’ after? I have not decided this yet. Lady Macbeth makes Macbeth feel guilty when he says that he cannot commit the murder, by claiming that he does not love her. Maybe Macbeth feels that this is how he may prove his love. However, the deed has the reverse effect – they are pushed further apart.

I think that the moment of Lady Macbeth's death is Macbeth's biggest moment of discovery.

Giles Block highlighted a very interesting point in relation to Macbeth's language. He said that if all of Macbeth's soliloquies are removed from the text, he says virtually nothing to the other characters apart from one-line answers. He mostly speaks to himself and to the audience.

The production

I think that our production of Macbeth is going to be a very funny show. The beginning with the witches is amazing. They come on stage and make an announcement to the audience about having to turn their mobile phones off. It is sharply choreographed, and they say the following words syllable by syllable: "Welcome ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Globe Theatre, please make sure that your mobile phones are SWITCHED OFF!" They shout the last two words together. Then the music starts and they begin moving in the rhythm with the lines and the music.

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as s/he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his/her own interpretations and may change frequently as the rehearsal process progresses.

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